Public Lighting Theory – developing the nexus of lighting and urban design
Are you a lighting designer or an artist?Are you a theorist or practitioner?
These questions are bound to come up at the end of every lecture Q & A depending on my audience.
The answer is YES!
Theorist and practitioner
Art, design, theory and practice are intertwined in my world. “Interdisciplinarianism” was coined in one of my first lectures Painting with Light in the early-1990’s – and I have continued to speak it and practice it. Additionally I have been developing public lighting theory through study, discussion, teaching, observation and practice (art and design production).
Observation includes dérive — through which I developed my unique brand of light walk with New School/Parsons School of Art architecture and lighting design students as well as the NightSeeing Map™ in 2006. Discussion includes my global lectures where the Q & A are as important as the information that I impart. And practice, also global, is comprised of the art installations and public lighting designs that my staff at Light Projects LTD and I have conceptualized and implemented for the past 17 years.
1. The first public lighting theory classifies lighting simply through its “sponsors”; public agencies, private owners, and found sources which are generally private, but unintentionally illuminate public space. To get the feel of the classifications here is a link to NIGHT CITY, a six minute movie, that guides the viewer through an after-dark experience throughout Greenwich Village, New York City, through close observation of public, private and found light sources. (Here, read about the making of the movie) 2. The second, “‘Eight Shades of Night’ – Public Space during the Darkened Hours” is a framework that posits that each district within a city has identifiable activity shades, or zones, that in the future can be matched by adaptive public lighting. The eight shades below typify a city like New York (similarly urbanized, western hemisphere, etc).
Dusk; as the sun sets, depending on season, either the work day extends into the night, or daylight extends into the post work
Happy hour; the social extension of the work day, decompression time
Dining out; the date, the business meeting, the special event, window shopping, strolling
Cultural events; the rush to the movies, theater, the ballet, concert or opera
Night shift; cleaning crews, around-the-clock services, such as transit, and emergency repairs and services begin
After hours; nightclubbing and after-hours clubs
Early risers; the first shift arrives, outdoor markets set up, newspapers arrive
Dawn; the commuters begin to arrive, power breakfast on Wall Street
[Copyright Leni Schwendinger 2009]
Eight-Shades-of-Night Light Walk; preparation and discussion
In November 2009, Professional Lighting Design Association held a program of Lightmapping in New York City. Our team was led by urban designer Brian McGrath, architectural designer Ute Besenecker and me. This light walk was formulated to explore my Eight-Shades-of-Night framework in the environs of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Light changes and social activity throughout the night from dusk to dawn were documented by photography and light level readings. Here, our presentation, limited to ten images as per the Lightmapping guidelines, was selected from hundreds of photographs from the area. [click “full screen” mode for best viewing]
Eight-Shades-of-Night Light Walk; out on the street from dusk 'til dawn
Read this debate published by Design Observer (links to Part 1 and Part 2) for more information about public lighting and a forward-looking concept about community control of adaptive lighting.
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